«Previous    Next»
Carriage Racing Catching On Fast
Carriage Arena Races pit horses and their drivers against the clock. Each carriage runs the course by itself. 
    “It is still very new in the U.S., but there is a lot of interest,” says Pam Kister, a horse trainer and carriage racer for the past 5 years.
     The drivers take their horse and cart through a course with sets of obstacles. The challenge is to maintain speed while following the course without striking an obstacle.
    “There is a lot of strategy involved,” says Kister. “Everyone has to go through each set of obstacles in the same order. However, they can choose which direction to follow out of the gates, either left or right. Some horses are better turning one way or the other, and you have to know your horse and choose accordingly.”
    One of the things that makes the event even more interesting is that any size horse can participate in the single or teamed events.
    “I prefer Shetlands and Morgans, but I’ll be using a National Show (Shetland/Hackney cross) at events this year,” says Kister. “Smaller breeds can cut the corners faster.”
    Unlike other types of harness racing, carriage racers can have a second person on the cart or buggy. Although they are called “navigators”, they are not allowed to speak with the driver or help direct them through the course. With a single horse, they shift from side to side to keep the wheels down. In case of problems in team events, they can help with the horses. One navigator is required with 2-horse teams, and 2 navigators are required for teams of 4 or more.
    “Safety is foremost with carriage racing,” says Kister. “This isn’t something to try if you haven’t practiced at home. You need to know how tight corners can be driven and how fast.”
    Some special equipment is needed, such as a breech on the harness attached to the shafts. Kister explains that the breech is the braking system and keeps the carriage from hitting the rear of the animal.
    Kister advises working with an experienced carriage racer to get started. “Every course is different, and you have to learn it before you drive it. “That’s one of the things that makes the sport so fun and challenging for drivers and interesting for those watching.”
    Kister invites those interested to contact her or the American Driving Society (ADS) to learn more. The ADS is developing rules to formalize the sport.
    Check out a video of Arena Carriage Driving at FARMSHOW.com.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Pam Kister, 2450B Fairfield Rd., Gettysburg, Penn. 17325 (ph 717 779-4542; greyhorsestable@hotmail.com); or The American Driving Society, Inc., P.O. Box 278, Cross Plains, Wis. 53528 (ph 608 237-7382; info@americandrivingsociety.org).

  Click here to download page story appeared in.

  Click here to read entire issue

To read the rest of this story, download this issue below or click here to register with your account number.
Order the Issue Containing This Story
2017 - Volume #41, Issue #2